The murder rate in Chicago is up 84 percent this year

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Chicago Homicide Rate More Than Double Since Last February

While the Chicago Police Department is under federal investigation following the shooting of Laquan McDonald, and owing to its police practices all around, homicides and shootings have spiked in the first three months of 2016. The 131 homicides so far represent an 84 percent increase over that period last year, and the 605 shootings in that stretch are almost double last year's total.

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Some experts blame the mild winter; others say that social media has sped up the pace of gang retaliations. Still, others note that after the criticism following the McDonald case, the Chicago police have avoided confronting citizens whenever possible. Although analysts generally reject that as a cause for the rising number of shootings, the statistic in the Times is striking:

Since January, officers have recorded 20,908 instances in which they stopped, patted down and questioned people for suspicious behavior, compared with 157,346 in the same period last year. Gun seizures are also down: 1,316 guns have been taken off the streets this year compared with 1,413 at this time last year.

Despite the increase, the numbers are far below the figures from the early 1990s, during the crack epidemic, when the homicide count hovered around 900. New York, a city with almost three times the population of Chicago, has only seen 60 homicides this year so far, a 20 percent drop from last year. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel this week named a new interim police chief, Eddie Johnson, a 27-year veteran of the department.

RELATED: Protests following the shooting death of Laquan McDonald:

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Protests in Chicago following Laquan McDonald shooting by police conviction
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The murder rate in Chicago is up 84 percent this year
Two men are detained near Pioneer Court on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders held a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Apple store employees, top, look to protesters lined up outside the Apple store on North Michigan Avenue, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders held a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" on Black Friday in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Protesters make their way up North Michigan Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders hold a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Iggy Flow, right, talks to police officers on North Michigan Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago. Community activists and labor leaders hold a demonstration billed as a "march for justice" in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Lamon Reccord, right, stares and yells at a Chicago police officer "Shoot me 16 times" as he and others march through Chicago's Loop Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, one day after murder charges were brought against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, a protester holds a sign as people rally for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago Police Department Officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. McDonald, whose name demonstrators are shouting as they march the streets and plan to shut down the cityâs glitziest shopping corridor on Friday, lived a troubled life full of disadvantages and at least one previous brush with the law. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)
Protesters form a line and walk holding signs that spell out 'Laquan' following the release of a dash-cam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 2015, in Chicago. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Demonstrators sit in Michigan Ave. along Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile shopping district, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, during a protest the day after murder charges were brought against police officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Protesters gesture near Chicago police while trying to enter an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago police form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters take to the streets in Chicago following the release of a dash-cam video of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being fatally shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 2015. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators confront police during a protest following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Chicago Police form a line to keep a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald from entering Grant Park, early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Chicago police form a line to prevent protestors from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Authorities form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Police stand guard as demonstrators march through downtown during a protest following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators march through downtown following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Protesters scuffle with Chicago police while trying to enter an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters scuffle with Chicago police while trying to enter an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Bus passengers watch as demonstrators march through downtown following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Authorities form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Chicago. White Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators march through downtown following the release of a video showing Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting and killing Laquan McDonald on November 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Van Dyke was charged today with first degree murder for the October 20, 2014 shooting in which McDonald was hit with 16 bullets. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Protesters shut down a street during a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters shut down a street during a protest for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Protesters march during a demonstration for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald early Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Chicago. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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